No wonder why beach campers travel almost 10 hours from Manila for this. Having to endure an 8 hour bus ride and a 2 hour boat ride is no joke but being able to see the beauty there is in this gem of Camarines Norte makes the trip worthwhile. Having to feel the fine of its sand on my toes, having to see before me the pristine waters and having to experience first hand what Calaguas can offer, made me crave for more.
Due to the influx of tourists, large number of tour groups have made packages to lessen the hassle of planning your own trip to this beautiful island, but the catch is, sometimes it is too costly thinking that they also have to gain profit. So to help you plan your trip to Calaguas as cheap as possible, I have made a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Travel Guide to this beautiful island.
How to get there: You can either reach Mahabang Buhangin via Vinzons or Paracale. The only difference would be the number of hours as Vinzons is much more farther than Paracale. The downside on the other hand of choosing Paracale, you will have to search for boat guides that won’t rip you off your pocket.
If you choose to go via Paracale: There are now direct trips to Paracale via Superlines. Travel time is around 8-9 hours and the jump-off point will be at Caltex (gasoline station) in Paracale. From there, you will need to hire a trike to take you to the fish port or you can also walk for around 15 minutes if you are really on a tight budget.
Superlines Transportation do have daily trips to Paracale but to be sure, I suggest that you book your tickets in advance. You can contact them at: 414-3319 or 414-3321. You may also want to try to contact them at their mobile number: 0922-522-5192.
Upon arrival at the fish port of Paracale, you can look for your boat guide who will bring you to Mahabang Buhangin but if you are still looking for one, I highly recommend Sir Ernie. Not only that he offers the cheapest fare to Mahabang Buhangin, he also sees to it that all of the things your group needs are well attended.
Travel time from Paracale to Mahabang Buhangin is roughly around 1 hour and 45 minutes, depending on the waves sometimes it can go as long as 2 hours.
If you will be coming from Vinzons, you can contact Kuya Putoy and haggle with him with the boat price. Travel time is around 2-3 hours, much more longer than Paracale but boat prices are surprisingly cheaper.
You can also avail of tour packages, there are groups that offers as low as 1800 php per person and that includes the boat, tents, 3 meals, other fees and a souvenir shirt. A reminder though, bus ticket from Manila to Paracale / Vinzons and vice-versa are not included.
Things to bring:
Aside from donning on your hip summer outfit (yes, you have to look for a sexy summer attire), these are the things that you need to bring with you in the island:
Insect repellent | own food | gallons of water | sunblock | personal medication (if any) | power bank | a trash bag (leave nothing but footprints, right?)
For the tent, there are tents for rent in the island and a big tent that can accommodate 5 person costs 400php. You can either reserve in advance with the help of your boat guide.
For the food, there are locals that are selling lobsters and other sea foods in Puting Buhangin but it depends on their catch so if I were you, I will have everything readily available before I reach the island. In our case, we brought with us burners and cook set. For our food, we bought them at Paracale’s wet market, a good 5 minute walk from Caltex station.
Please note that there is no signal in the island except if you will climb the hill 🙂
For the boat guides, you can contact Sir Ernie (Paracale) at 09471109451 and Kuya Putong (Vinzons) at 09205666985 , they are the ones who can give you the cheapest rate given how greedy some of the boat guides are especially in Paracale.
Things to do:
Swim at the crystal clear waters of Calaguas. I’m sure, everyone will be tempted to do it. As a matter of fact, in my case, I did jump out of the boat when we arrived at the island because of too much excitement.
Climb the hill and be at awe with the sunset or sunrise. Please note that there are kid guides and they are charging 50 php but you can also do it on your own.
Have a side trip at Bagasbas beach and try surfing or paragliding. These are all in Daet, a good 1 hour ride from Paracale. The good thing is, there are a lot of buses leaving Daet than in Paracale so it would be advantageous to your group.
Budget and fees:
Bus fare from Manila to Paracale: 515 php
Boat rental: 7000 php (Paracale to Mahabang Buhangin) + 500 php tip (optional) to Sir Ernie for being so accommodating (From Paracale to Mahabang Buhangin and Mahabang Buhangin back to Paracale)
Boat fare from Vinzons: 500 per head just contact Kuya Putong.
Note that you can divide this within your group. The boat by the way can only accommodate around 16 passengers.
Environmental fee at Paracale: 25 php
Environmental fee at Mahabang Buhangin (LGU side): 25 php
Note that Mahabang Buhangin are divided into groups, the private one’s and the LGU. It is in LGU where we stayed, the cheapest but has the most crowd. Private sectors do charge a staggering 150 php as entrance fee so if you have that plenty of money, you may opt to stay at their side of the beach.
Side trip to Bagasbas: 70 php per head
Bus ticket fro Daet to Manila: 500 php
There are other fees that we paid and divided among our group like the food, the trike ride to the port etc but we only shelled out 2000 php each all-in. Not bad right?
See? Going to Calaguas need not be that expensive. All you need is a thorough research and a number of friends that are willing to join you. If you are planning on your last Summer hurrah, you should go visit Calaguas now. It is not yet too late before this island becomes your another Boracay.